Council Strategic Planning

TU Council Strategic Planning Resources and Templates

Developing a strategic plan for your council may sound intimidating. However the process does not need to be daunting to identify simple goals and commitments for the next three to five years. Below are resources that can support your team in cultivating a plan to guide your efforts, making a substantial difference in the effectiveness of your council.

The strategic planning process offers volunteer leaders a rare opportunity to pause and look at the council as a whole and develop, as a collective, a concrete vision of the impact the council intends to make over the next few years. It is a time to connect the dots between mission and programs, to specify the resources that will be required to deliver those programs, and to establish criteria that allow everyone to understand whether the desired results were achieved.

Strategic Planning Resources

Ready to get started on your council’s plan? These resources can help:

Read: Trout Unlimited Strategic Plan – 2015-2020
Your council’s strategic plan should follow the mission and goals of Trout Unlimited’s national plan, but with a focus on the issues and resources in your council geography. You should also check with your chapters to review and better understand their strategic plans, focusing attention on specific goals or trends that your team may incorporate.

Watch: Strategic Planning – Building a Roadmap for Growth
This one-hour recorded training covers the ins and outs of chapter strategic planning and offers helpful tips and guidance from TU staff and fellow volunteers that is also applicable to council strategic planning.

Watch: Using Data to Drive Strategy
This one-hour recorded training reviews how you can use your chapters’ Annual Financial Report and other data to develop aspects of your plan.

Use: The Strategic Planning Template 
This document can be used as a guide, or just as a starting point to help organize your strategic planning process.

Strategic Planning Tips

Below, you’ll find some general guidelines for developing your council’s strategic plan and a few examples of how a simple strategic plan can lay the groundwork for your council’s efforts.

  1. The council chair should convene a small workgroup or committee. Not all strategic planning committee members need to be current board members, i.e. Your committee may benefit from thoughtfully populating your group with diverse chapter representation as well as up and coming chapter and council leaders. A chair of the committee should be identified so that it is clear who is responsible for facilitating meetings, identifying action items, giving direction, and following through.
  2. The strategic planning workgroup should start by collecting feedback from your chapter leaders, members, partners, and regionally based staff about the council’s internal strengths and weaknesses, and also your external opportunities and threats, a process commonly called a “SWOT” analysis. Surveys are a good tool for gathering this information, but so too are simple conversations. As you go through, it’s not enough to ask, “What is our council’s biggest weakness?” you have to go a step further and say, “Why have we neglected this area?” It also helps to think of your strengths as opportunities for growth. “We have great engagement on social media, but how can we move a higher percentage of those supporters to donate or volunteer? Gathering outside perspective can be incredibly helpful.
  3. Have each of the strategic planning workgroup members re-read the TU national strategic plan. Then, check in with your chapters to review their plans and solicit their input into your process. We are much more likely to be successful achieving our organizational vision when we plan and work together across the organization. Your workgroup members will likely notice commonalities. Work together to identify trends through your conversations.
  4. In a subsequent meeting, the strategic planning workgroup aims to put pen to paper and draft the elements of the plan using the template below, which divides your strategic plan into six parts: Conservation, Communications, Engagement, Fundraising, Chapter Development, and Council Development. Addressing all of these areas ensures your council will remain strong and resilient as leadership changes.
  5. The chair of the strategic planning committee takes the draft written by committee and cleans it up into a short, clean and compelling piece. This draft plan is then reviewed by the full council board of directors and the chapters before a full council board vote. After that, the plan is finalized and should be uploaded to the Leaders Only Tools section of so that all chapter board members can easily access and review it over the life of the plan.
  6. The strategic planning committee should set calendar reminders to bring the plan forward throughout the year at board meetings, committee meetings and inclusion in council communications to ensure the council is on track or even to edit or revise as circumstances change.


TU Volunteer Leaders trainings are a powerful way to connect with resources, learn from fellow volunteers and grow your impact locally. Join us for the following events:

In-Person Trainings:

2021 Annual Meeting
Due to increasing COVID-19 concerns and projections, the 2021 Annual Meeting is cancelled.

2021 Regional Rendezvous
Due to increasing COVID-19 concerns and projections, the 2021 Regional Rendezvous are postponed.

Online Trainings:

View past training recordings or join an upcoming live, online webinar, held at 8 p.m. EST unless otherwise noted.

February 23 — Virtual Advocacy: Using Online Petitions to Grow Impact (8PM)

March 4 — Filing the NEW Annual Activity Report & IRS Reporting Requirements (8PM)

March 15 — Embrace A Stream Grant Training (8PM)

March 29 — Effective Digital Communications During COVID (8PM)

April 8 — TU Event Registration Tools to Better Manage and Promote Your Activities (8PM)


Your Volunteer Operations Staff is here to help! 

Nick Halle
Volunteer Operations Coordinator
(703) 284-9425
Contact Nick for:

  • Volunteer Leader Login Issues
  • Insurance Requests / Questions
  • Fundraising Program & Support
  • Membership Recruitment Tools
  • L.L. Bean Rod Donations

Lisa Beranek

Leadership Development Manager
(907) 205-0974
Contact Lisa for:

  • Leadership Recruitment & Development
  • Embrace A Stream Grants Program
  • Strategic Planning Support
  • Diversity Event Planning